Can you believe we’re in the final throes of 2016? It was a huge year for models—with our favorite runway queens continuing to cement their names in history, as well as a few who doubled as both mannequins and celebrities.
This category is all about women who stormed the fashion industry and broke records. From hitting the catwalk more times than we can count to fronting campaigns for the world’s most iconic fashion houses, every single one of these nominees has demonstrated just how much power is to be had when beauty, brains, and some fierce posing are combined.
1. Naomi Campbell
This legend honestly needs no introduction. She is one of fashion’s longest standing supermodels and has continued her complete catwalk and campaign domination this year. The red carpet has been her BFF—check out her latest look in McQueen—but she has also taken to the runway for Versace and Yeezy.
The Balmain Spring 2016 ad campaign was on the agenda, as well as covers and high-fashion spreads for Another, Paper, Allure, W, and countless others.
And her red carpet moments were plentiful and unforgettable. Every fashion house in the world clamors to dress Naomi and she did not disappoint them, nor us.
If you’re in the game or ever want to be, notes should be taken on a daily basis when it comes to how Naomi is doing this whole fashion thing. If this is what aging looks like, sign us up as many times as possible.
Check out all Naomi has been up to this year here.
2. Kendall Jenner
Fact: regardless of what you think about the Jenner girls, they are absolute forces to be reckoned with in the fashion and beauty spaces. While her Kardashian sisters dominated in their own avenues, Kendall effortlessly slayed the style scene.
The raven-haired beauty turned 21 and gained incredible success along with another year of life. She continued her partnership as one of the faces of Estee Lauder, as well as snagging the Spring 2017 campaign for La Perla.
Her runway moments included walking for Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Givenchy, Fendi Couture, and a slew of others.
And with the help of stylist Monica Rose, Kendall was launched into the sartorial stratosphere. If she wore it, it was cool.
And with almost 70 million followers, she’s not just one of the world’s top models, but a veritable celebrity and social media star.
Keep up with all Kendall’s looks here.
3. Joan Smalls
What’s not to love about Joan Smalls? She is an absolute dynamo—effortlessly switching between runway and off-duty, Couture and fast fashion. You’ve seen her on too many covers to count this year: Numéro, Harper’s Bazaar Germany, Glamour, and CR Fashion Book are just a few.
Joan is among the list of “New Supers” in the industry: solidifying her as one of the biggest and most important models of our time. She is also one of the highest paid, which is why you see her on a select smattering of runways.
Atelier Versace, Givenchy, Bottega Veneta, and Michael Kors are just a handful of catwalks Joan graced this year. She also fronted the campaigns for Balmain, Moschino, and Givenchy, as well as holding it down as one of the faces of Estee Lauder.
The Puerto Rican-born babe is the perfect blend of brains and beauty—she can take to a panel to talk about diversity and then glide to a high-fashion fête in next season’s wares. It’s all in a day’s work for Ms. Smalls.
If she isn’t your fave then…why not?
Never miss a Joan moment by bookmarking this link.
4. Ashley Graham
To say that this was Ashley Graham’s year is a gross understatement. The model broke down some serious barriers in the industry, showing that curvy girls do it well both on and off the catwalk.
She was everywhere we turned this year, which made our jobs a lot of fun. She just landed a cover of British Vogue and was one of the faces of H&M’s Holiday 2016 campaign.
The red carpet sizzled every time Ashley stepped onto it. She donned pieces from Michael Kors Collection and Christopher Kane with ease.
And she also forged her name in history as designer, launching her own namesake lingerie collection and a runway assortment with Addition Elle.
As the judge for the new season of America’s Next Top Model, we’ll also be seeing Ashley on our television screens for the next few weeks.
Stay updated with all Ashley news here.
5. Ysaunny Brito
The Dominican Republic is giving us some of the best models in the world and Ysaunny Brito is one of them. The 22 year-old phenom’s edgy haircut is unmistakeable, as is her prowess as soon as she’s put in front of the camera.
ELLE UK, French Revue de Modes, and Vogue Mexico all put her on their covers this year, though she posed for a plethora of other glossies.
And when it came to the runway, Ysaunny dominated. Zuhair Murad Haute Couture, DKNY, Tom Ford, and Fendi were just some of the brands that included her in their lineups.
And her campaign game was strong too, with Balmain and Public School on the list.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Ysaunny. If you feel the same, stay informed here.
6. Gigi Hadid
If it wasn’t the Kardashian-Jenner girls running the world, then it was the Hadid sisters. Gigi strengthened her space at the top by continuing as one of the faces of Maybelline, as well as designing her own shoe for Stuart Weitzman.
Can you say celebrity? The blonde beauty played host and became a true star outside of all her modeling work.
But as you might have imagined, her portfolio continued to grow. Fendi, Moschino, Anna Sui, and Giambattista Valli were among the fashion heavy hit hitters who enlisted her on their catwalks in 2016.
And her relationship with the equally popular Zayn was fodder for at least a million articles, pictures, and Instagram posts this year. They took to Paris Fashion Week and red carpet events together and naturally, all eyes were on them.
The covers? W, Allure, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar. Pretty much all of them.
Like BFF Kendall, Gigi also worked with Monica Rose who made her as much of a go-to for her looks as she was for her runway moments.
Already on her to-do list for 2017 is her ongoing collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, her relationship with that British-born crooner, and a soaring number of followers. She’s at 26 million right now, but that increases daily.
Get your Gigi fix here.
And that will do it folks! Who is your model of the year?